Chapter 9.70
Permit Application Filing and Processing

Sections:

9.70.010    Purpose of Chapter

9.70.020    Authority for Land Use and Zoning Decisions

9.70.030    Application Preparation and Filing

9.70.040    Application Fees

9.70.050    Recreation Fee for New Construction

9.70.060    Initial Application Review

9.70.070    Project Evaluation and Staff Report

9.70.010 Purpose of Chapter

This Chapter provides procedures and requirements for the preparation, filing, and initial processing of applications for the planning permits required by this Land Use Code.

9.70.020 Authority for Land Use and Zoning Decisions

Table 7-1 (Review Authority) identifies the review authority responsible for reviewing and making decisions on each type of application required by this Land Use Code. (Ord. 1432, eff. 12/20/2013)

9.70.030 Application Preparation and Filing

A.    Pre-application conference. A prospective applicant is encouraged to contact the Department to request a pre-application conference before completing and filing an application. The purpose of the conference is to generally:

1.    Inform the applicant of City requirements as they apply to the proposed project;

2.    Review the City’s approval process, possible project alternatives or modifications;

3.    Identify the information and materials the City will require with the application, and any necessary technical studies and information relating to the environmental review of the project; and

4.    Provide the opportunity for the applicant to ask questions involving the concerns of multiple City departments before developing detailed plans.

Neither a pre-application conference nor information and/or pertinent policies provided by the Department shall be construed as either a recommendation for approval or disapproval of a project by any City staff. A failure by City staff to identify all required studies or all applicable requirements does not constitute a waiver of those requirements.

B.    Application contents. Each application for a planning permit, amendment, or other matter pertaining to this Land Use Code shall be filed with the Department on a City application form, together with required fees and/or deposits, and all materials (e.g., drawings, exhibits, maps, other information) required by the application content requirements "handout" provided by the Department for the specific type of application (e.g., Use Permit, Variance, or others).

1.    Consolidation of applications. Application forms for more than one permit may be consolidated if practical.

2.    Verification of required contents. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Department before submitting an application to verify which materials are necessary for filing a complete application.

C.    Eligibility for filing. An application may only be filed by the owner of the subject property, or an authorized agent with the written consent of the property owner. An application filed by or on behalf of one or more property owners shall be verified by at least one owner, or authorized agent, attesting to the truth and correctness of all facts, statements, and information presented.

D.    Preliminary Planning Commission Review.

1.    Request for advice. An application for preliminary review may be filed to request the comments of the Planning Commission before filing an application for formal City action or permit issuance for major projects. The Preliminary Review process shall not be used for issues related to Historic Preservation or Design Review as identified in Subsection 9.72.040.E. of this Land Use Code.

2.    Planning Commission discretion. The Planning Commission may choose not to provide a Preliminary Review on a major project.

3.    Effect of review. A Planning Commission Preliminary Review is advisory only and shall not be considered as a formal approval or disapproval.

9.70.040 Application Fees

A.    Fee Schedule. The Council shall establish a schedule of fees for the processing of the applications required by this Land Use Code, hereafter referred to as the City’s Fee Schedule.

B.    Multiple applications. The City’s processing fees are cumulative. For example, if a project requires both a Use Permit and a Variance, both fees will be charged. All application fees are a deposit subject to an hourly rate.

C.    Timing of payment. No application shall be deemed complete, and processing shall not commence or continue on any application until all fees required by the City have been paid in full.

D.    Exemptions. A municipal agency shall be exempt from the payment of fees normally required by this Land Use Code.

E.    Refunds.

1.    Disapproval. Required application fees cover City costs for public hearings, mailings, staff time, and the other activities involved in processing applications. Therefore, no refund due to a disapproval shall be allowed.

2.    Withdrawal. If an application is withdrawn, the Director may authorize a partial refund of application fees based upon the pro-rated costs to-date and the status of the application at the time of withdrawal.

 

Table 7-1 - Review Authority 

Type of Decision

Procedure is in Section:

Role of Review Authority (1)

Zoning Administrator

Historic & Design Review Commission

Planning Commission

City Council

Administrative and Legislative

Land Use Code Amendment

9.92

 

 

Recommend

Decision

General Plan Amendment

9.92

 

 

Recommend

Decision

Historic Designations

9.53

 

Recommend

Recommend

Decision

Interpretation

9.10.050

Decision (2)

 

Appeal

Appeal

Local Coastal Program Amendment

9.92

 

 

(3)

(3)

Zoning Map Amendment

9.92

 

 

Recommend

Decision

Development Agreement

9.72.110

 

 

Recommend

Decision

Planning Permit/Development Approval

Alterations & Demolitions

9.53

 

Decision

Appeal

Appeal

Coastal Permit (CP)

9.72.030

(3)

 

(3)

(4)

Design Review (DR)

9.72.040

 

Decision

Decision/ Appeal (5)

Appeal

Emergency Permit

9.72.050

Decision (2)

 

Appeal

Appeal

Hillside Development Permit

9.52.070

Decision (2)

 

Appeal

Appeal

Master Sign Plan

9.38.030

Recommend

Decision

 

Appeal

Minor Use Permit (MUP)

9.72.080

Decision (2)

 

Appeal

Appeal

Tree Removal Permit

9.58.050

Decision (2)

 

Appeal

Appeal

Planned Development Permit (PD)

9.72.070

Decision (2)

 

Decision

Appeal

Sign Permit

9.38.030

Decision (2)

Decision

 

Appeal

Use Permit (UP)

9.72.080

Recommend

 

Decision

Appeal

Variance

9.72.090

 

Decision

Decision

Appeal

Zoning Clearance

9.72.100

Issuance

 

Appeal

Appeal

Notes:

(1)    "Recommend" means that the review authority makes a recommendation to a higher decision-making body; "Decision" means that the review authority makes the final decision on the matter; "Appeal" means that the review authority may consider and decide upon appeals to the decision of an earlier decision-making body, in compliance with Chapter 9.76 (Appeals).

(2)    The Zoning Administrator may defer action and refer the request to the Planning Commission, so that the Planning Commission may instead make the decision.

(3)    Coastal Development Permits shall be reviewed as required in the City’s certified LCP.

(4)    Coastal Permits are either approved by the City or the California Coastal Commission or both depending on the location of the project. Some City decisions on Coastal Permits can be appealed to the Coastal Commission. See the City’s LCP for more information.

(5)    Refer to Section 9.72.040.C for the decision-making body.

(Ord. 1395, eff. 11/6/2009; Ord. 1432, eff. 12/20/2013)

9.70.050 Recreation Fee for New Construction

A.    Title. This Section may be cited as the "Arcata Recreation Fee for New Construction Ordinance."

B.    Purpose. The fee imposed under this Section is solely for the purpose of raising revenue for park acquisition and improvements. This Section is not enacted for regulatory purposes. This Section is intended to supplement the Park Land Dedication procedure in the Subdivision Ordinance (see Section 9.86.030), and it is applicable only for projects not subject to parkland in lieu requirements.

C.    Imposition of fee. The Recreation Fee, at the rates identified in the City’s Fee Schedule, is hereby imposed upon every person who constructs, or causes to be constructed, any residential, commercial, or industrial structure or portion thereof, including any mobile home pad, in the City, in which a person has an equity, title, or other interest either as owner, lessee, or otherwise.

D.    Fee rates. The fee rates on residential, commercial, or industrial construction, including the construction of mobile home pads, imposed under this Section shall be identified in the City’s Fee Schedule. The fee rate for residential, commercial, or industrial units shall be based on the valuation of the units being constructed.

E.    Time of payment. The amount of fee imposed for the construction of any residential, commercial, or industrial structure, or portion thereof, shall be due and payable at the time a Building Permit is issued authorizing construction, and the amount of fee imposed for the construction of any mobile home pad shall be due and payable at the time a permit is issued to construct and install electrical or plumbing equipment to service the mobile home pad (whichever permit is issued first).

F.    Refund. There shall be a refund of the fee in the event the Building Permit expires, or is revoked, before the facilities for which it was issued are constructed or installed.

G.    Place of payment. Fees imposed by this Section shall be paid to the City’s Building Official at the office of the City’s Building Division.

H.    Exemptions. The fee imposed by this Section shall not apply to the following:

1.    Governmental agencies. The City, the United States, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, the State or any county, city and county, district, or any political subdivision of the State, or any other governmental agency.

2.    Remodeling / alteration. Remodeling and/or alteration of a structure, without adding any additional residential units, but only if the total floor area is not increased.

3.    Involuntarily damaged or destroyed. Reconstruction of a structure which was involuntarily damaged or destroyed by earthquake, fire, flood, or other cause over which the owner had no control (provided that compliance with any Building Code or other ordinance requirement of the City or of any other applicable law shall not be deemed a cause over which the owner has no control), but only if the total floor area in the structure is not increased. If the total floor area is increased, the Recreation Fee shall be imposed only upon the increased floor area.

4.    Park land/fee payment. Construction of dwelling units on parcels which were part of a subdivision for which park land, or fee payment in lieu, has been dedicated to the City in compliance with the Park Land Dedication procedure contained in the Subdivision Ordinance (see Section 9.86.030).

I.    Use of fee revenue. All of the fees collected by this Section shall be expended for the acquisition, alteration, construction, enlargement, furnishing, modification, reconstruction, remodeling, renovation, replacement, and/or re-furnishing of the following improvements:

1.    City public park, playground, and recreation facilities. City public park, playground, and recreation facilities, including land and interests in land, baseball grounds, basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, children’s play areas, community center structures, recreation structures, sprinkler systems, swimming pools, turf, trails and other facilities, properties, structures, and works necessary or convenient for public park, playground, and recreation purposes; and also including any of the above-described facilities constructed or installed within or upon any public playground for recreation purposes.

2.    City maintenance yards. City maintenance yards for park, playground, and recreation facilities, including land and interests in land, structures, and other structures or works necessary or convenient for the maintenance of the City’s parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities.

J.    Fee construction fund. For the purposes identified above, all fees collected by this Section shall be placed in a special construction fund which is hereby created and which shall establish and keep the accounts as may be necessary to account for and control the expenditure of revenues in compliance with this Section.

9.70.060 Initial Application Review

After acceptance of a complete application, the project shall be reviewed as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Chapter 9.78 (Environmental Impact Assessment).

A.    Review for completeness. The Director shall review each application for completeness and accuracy before it is accepted as being complete and officially filed. The Director’s determination of completeness shall be based on the City’s list of required application contents (see Section 9.70.030.B - Application contents, above), and any additional instructions provided.

1.    Notification of applicant. As required by State law (Government Code Section 65943), within 30 calendar days of application filing, the applicant shall be informed in writing, either that the application is complete and has been accepted for processing, or that the application is incomplete and that additional information, specified in the Director’s letter, shall be provided. If the application is complete, a written determination is not required, because the application will automatically be deemed complete 30 days after the receipt of the application.

2.    Appeal of determination. Where the Director has determined that an application is incomplete, and the applicant believes that the application is complete and/or that the information requested by the Director is not required, the applicant may appeal the determination in compliance with Chapter 9.76 (Appeals).

3.    Time for submittal of additional information. When an application is incomplete, the time used by the applicant to submit the required additional information shall not be considered part of the time within which the determination of completeness shall occur. The time available to an applicant for submittal of additional information is limited by Subsection A.4.

4.    Expiration of application. If an applicant fails to provide the additional information specified in the Director’s letter within 180 days after the first filing with the Department, the application shall expire and be deemed withdrawn. Upon a request by the applicant, the Director may grant one 180-day extension. After the expiration of an application, project approval shall require the submittal of a new, complete application.

5.    Environmental information. After an application has been accepted as complete, the Director may require the applicant to submit additional information needed for the environmental review of the project in compliance with Chapter 9.78 (Environmental Impact Assessment).

B.    Determination of Coastal Permit notice and hearing procedures. For projects proposed within the Coastal Zone, the Zoning Administrator shall review the City’s certified LCP to determine whether the development is categorically excluded, non-appealable, or appealable for the purposes of notice, hearing, and appeal procedures, at the same time that completeness review occurs in compliance with subsection (A) of this Section.

C.    Referral of application. At the discretion of the Zoning Administrator, or where otherwise required by this Land Use Code or State or Federal law, an application may be referred to any public agency that may be affected by or have an interest in the proposed project. (Ord. 1432, eff. 12/20/2013)

9.70.070 Project Evaluation and Staff Report

A.    Staff evaluation. The Director shall review all discretionary applications filed in compliance with this Article to determine whether they comply and are consistent with the provisions of this Land Use Code, other applicable provisions of the Municipal Code, the General Plan, and any applicable specific plan.

B.    Staff report. The Director shall provide a written recommendation to the Zoning Administrator, Planning Commission, and/or Council (as applicable) on whether the application should be approved, approved subject to conditions, or disapproved.

C.    Report distribution. Each staff report shall be furnished to the applicant at the same time as it is provided to review authority before a hearing on the application.